chapter  2
19 Pages

Total theatre and music theatre

Tracing influences from pre- to post-war avant-gardes
WithJulia H. Schröder

In the theatrical context, the auteur seeks control over every aspect of a production, and thus qualifies as the creator of what has become known as ‘total theatre’. The term ‘total theatre’ was quite present in the post-war discourse on music theatre, without being defined in a definite way: in the Editorial to the English and French Magazine World Theatre from 1965, ‘total theatre’ is defined provisionally as a performance that combines several types of performance. As an indication of the term’s reception, the list shows prominent uses of the term ‘total theatre’ from the 1920s and 1930s, followed by examples from the 1960s, and – shortly afterwards – their musicological acknowledgement. An all-encompassing concept of theatre came about wherein the outstanding innovations belonged to formerly accessory realms, particularly the staging. Theatre directors such as Vsevolod Meyerhold and Erwin Piscator are therefore primary subjects of this research, even though they wrote neither a dramatic text nor a musical composition.